Rampage (2018)

I mentioned in my Tomb Raider review (available here) that that film is a video game movie with the emphasis on the “movie” part. This is the opposite, this is like watching a playthrough on youtube of a game. It’s just sheer balls to the wall fun. This is not a smart movie, and it’s not a movie you need to watch again and again, analysing every frame. But whilst it’s not something you NEED to see again, it is something you’ll WANT to see again, late at night, when you’ve had a bad day and just need something to distract you from the unrelenting horror of modern life.

The cast all know this as well, none of them seem to be taking it seriously, and it’s a much better film for it. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, in particular, seems to be having the time of his life, giving his character a southern drawl and carrying himself in the most entertaining way possible. Let’s face it though, you’re not here to see him be entertaining as hell, you’re here to see CGI monsters destroy shit. And you’re in luck, as the closing third of this is just chaos upon chaos, the kind which last years Geostorm could have used. Surprisingly, the CGI holds up remarkably well. There are one or two brief moments where it looks a bit cartoon-like but other than that they’ve done a great job with making it all seem real. It’s also, really, really funny, having multiple laugh-out-loud moments throughout. Now I’ll admit the laughs aren’t exactly high-brow, but they’re incredibly effective. Who’d have thought a monkey making crude hand gestures would be so funny?

It’s not all good though. The villains are basically as substantial and necessary as the pop tarts one of them eats (although the actors playing them, again, do remarkably well). It’s a shame as I feel they’re just a few scenes away from being entertaining as hell, but they’re just not given enough to do to justify you remembering who they are. There are also three characters introduced at the beginning who disappear after the first act, which is just weird as they’re all introduced with character traits and personalities that could have justified them being there throughout. They’re built up so well and then just disappear. I’m guessing there’s deleted scenes of them somewhere but at the moment it just seems a bit weird, like the scriptwriter just forgot to delete them in his second draft.

It’s also not helped by its rating. It needed to be slightly more visceral. Now I’m not asking for 90 minutes of decapitations and torture porn, but there are some moments where they cut away slightly too early, or have something in the background out of focus that could have looked great in focus. Although you can have great violence in a PG film, a good example of this was The 5th Wave, which featured someone being knocked over by a giant wave. Now instead of having them just knocked off a balcony, it had them knocked off, and their back hit against a railing on the way down. It made it feel more real and painful. This film also has the “you mother f-explosion” thing which WAY too many films have lately and it’s annoying. Just say “fuck”.

So in summary: don’t go out of your way to see it, but do see it if you can. Incredibly fun and joyous. Kind of like Jumanji. And The Rock is hilarious in it, kind of like Jumanji. Actually, this is a lot like Jumanji, only slightly less so.

End Of Year Film Awards

Best Actor

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals. Better known as “That kid from Kick-Ass”. One of the things about Kick-Ass was that it was about a hero who looked absolutely nothing like a hero, in fact there’s one scene where he threatens somebody and they just laugh at him. Yet in this he’s absolutely terrifying. His despicable nature just oozes out of the screen every second he’s on. Genuinely unsettling, and utterly compelling.

Also:

Bradley Cooper – Joy. If only because he’s responsible for the best moments in the film. His scenes with Jennifer Lawrence almost make her up her game, and it’s a much better film during those all too brief moments.

Best Actress

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Brie Larson – Room. Did you watch this film? Then you know why. She was just amazing in this. Everything about her performance was perfect. I saw this in January, which meant I had 11 months of performances which couldn’t even match it.

Also:

Madison Wolfe – The Conjuring 2. A performance beyond her years.

Julia Roberts – Secrets In Their Eyes. The first time I feel I’ve truly “got” her as an actress. Superb.

Best Script

Eye In The Sky: A film which could have been very bad if written differently. Same plot, same actors, same director and this film would not have only been bad, but catastrophically awful. As it was this film was perfectly paced. When doing a film like this you do run the risk of attempting methodical and instead just ending up with it being boring and too slow. You need to slowly crank up the tension through dialogue, if it goes wrong, it’s awful, but when it works it’s phenomenal. A fitting epitaph to Alan Rickman’s career.

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Worst Film

The Boss: I really want to like Melissa McCarthy, but she keeps making terrible films. Her character in this is extremely unlikeable with almost no character arc that redeems her. In almost any other film she’d be the main villain.

Best Film Moment

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Arrival – The meeting scene. There’s a moment in this where Amy Adam’s character first meets the aliens. It’s about ten minutes long and you can’t take your eyes away from the screen the entire time. Everything about it is perfect, the look, the acting, it all builds towards something which if there’s any justice will become as big a part of pop-culture iconography as scenes from Close Encounters, ET, or Alien. A moment full of pure wonder that truly shows what film can do.

Worst Film Moment

Batman Vs Superman: Martha. A moment which almost became shorthand for “awful and nonsensical”. The thing is, it does kind of make sense when you think about it, it could have been very believable that seeing someone as a person with a family will change your outlook on them, but the way it was delivered simply wasn’t good enough.

Best Film

Room: Excellent script, some of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time, and truly beautiful. This isn’t just film, this is emotional spectacle cinema. A film which I saw very early on in the year, and yet almost 12 months later it has still stuck with me.

Best Film To Look At

Arrival: A film shot with the warmth and cosiness of a home video. Science fiction (more than any other genre) seems to define itself by it’s look. And this film does more than enough to join the greats of the genre.

Also:

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. 

Beautifully shot, the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and the costumes are superb. You could watch this on mute and still find things to appreciate.

Most Disappointing Film

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

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This film had so much riding on it, so for it to fall as much as it did (critically at least) is very disappointing. Especially since the problems in it are easily fixed. Some of them aren’t personal preference, they’re basic storytelling mistakes. I know it sounds awful to say but this film should end somebody’s career, you cannot make some of the mistakes they made in this film and still hope to make films. It had such high potential too, it really needed to be great, but in the end it was merely only “okay”

Also:

10 Cloverfield Lane

A film of three thirds: the first two are really good, matching up and in some ways surpassing the original, tense and claustophobic, just brilliant. Then it’s all thrown away in the final stretch until it dissolves into what William Shakespeare would describe as “a massive pile of wank”

Central Intelligence. It took too long to get to the point of the film, and there weren’t really enough “laugh out loud” moments. Reminds me of Hear No Evil, See No Evil, in that the chemistry between the leads is better than the actual fil.

Most Surprising Film

The 5th Wave

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I expected this to be just low-grade YA shlock. Yet it had a really really good plot and some excellent moments. Yes it wasn’t the greatest film I saw this year, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be.

Also: Goosebumps.

Very solid and well made kids horror film. I saw some reviews of it which criticised it for “looks like it was made for children”, which, you know, it was. It’s like criticising porn for being aimed at people who want to masturbate. Yeah it means it won’t make much money among people who want something to watch in the evening whilst drinking a glass of red wine in the evening, but it’s not meant to.

The “Well I Liked It” Award

The BFG: Called by some people “one of the biggest box office bombs of 2016” and I truly don’t get why. In a year which was the best one in recent memory for kids films, this one still stood out in a very crowded bunch. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; there are many great films, only a select few are “magical”, and this is definitely one.

Best Marketing Campaign

Deadpool: A very violent comic book film, what would be the best way to market this?

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That’s actually pretty brilliant. During the run up to the release to this (way way back at the beginning of the year) Ryan Reynolds was on point, uploading almost in character updates on the film. If anybody doubting how well-suited he was to the role hopefully had those doubt squashed like a bug. Actually he continued it past release, doing new adverts to celebrate the film being out for a month in cinemas. A magnificent campaign which worked wonders. If there’s any doubt how successful this campaign was I’ll point this out; it meant people wanted to see the film, despite the fact that most peoples knowledge of the character being X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

2016 In Film (Part Three: The Good)

Films I like but don’t love. One’s that I won’t rush out to buy, but if I saw them at a good price I’d feel compelled to get them.

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I actually liked this film. Okay, the “romance” moments were really bad but the rest of the film was good. The destruction scenes were very well done and really showcased the horror that’s going on. There’s very little “implied” deaths here, they’re shown, and shown in detail. For example; during a scene where an earthquake induced tsunami where the wave washes through a building, rather than just show it from the outside, or show people getting knocked down, the wave actually knocks someone off a balcony and they land (painfully) on a rail below. The plot itself was really tight as well, it held together beautifully and I’m genuinely invested in the characters and want to see what happens next. A mix of both terribly cliche teen bullshit, and REALLY strong plotting.
The Accountant
Aflecks best film of the year (although that’s not saying much).
Bridge Of Spies
I expected to be really bored by this. But the plot, and the performances, were strong enough to keep me emotionally invested in the story. I loved it.
Carol
A lovely film, seemed to come straight from the 70’s. Very disappointed it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at Academy Awards, it fully deserved it. I also found it kind of weird that Rooney Mara got nominated for Best Supporting Actress considering she was one of the leads. It’s like the academy doesn’t want to admit that a film can have more than one female lead. And in a year where Jennifer Lawrence got nominated for the “oh yeah I forgot that film existed” Joy, it’s not as though there was lots of very strong competition to keep her out, okay she would have still ended up losing to Brie Larson from Room, but still.
Creed
A film that almost made people forget about the last few Rocky movies. It does follow a few of the same story beats as the original, but it’s done so well that you don’t really care. Possibly the best boxing film of the year (and one that reminds me I forgot to put Bleed For This in the “bad” blog so I’ll just quickly mention it here; the important car crash from the trailer? Doesn’t happen until over the halfway mark, it’s horrifically paced, we see the main character lose a fight, train and make a comeback, win that fight, THEN get in the car crash. Cut the first fight and would improve it immensely). But back to this film; it was basically a remake of an iconic film, featuring a black character as the lead, yet the internet didn’t shit on it, THAT’S how good this film was, even racists like it, and they usually only like burning crosses on lawns, drinking beer, and being terrible people.
Had a lot working against it, film adaptations of television shows very rarely work, neither do remakes, and this is both. I went into this with low expectations but it was very enjoyable, funny enough and enjoyable, very entertaining.
Eddie The Eagle
The kind of film you put on at christmas when you’ve got family round and need something funny and innocent whilst you stuff your face full of celebrations and pringles. Very very funny, and not just “slight chortle to self” laugh, but “full on laugh out loud” laughs.
Eye In The Sky
Pretty much a bottle episode, starts off very tense and maintains the tense nature throughout the entire film, which is very hard to do. A worthy last film for Alan Rickman.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
This was very close to being put in the “meh”, it doesn’t have enough “wow” moments, moments where you truly embrace the magic of the moment, just kind of ordinary. Elevated into “good” by the performance of Dan Fogler and his characters romantic sub-plot, which really works. Is sweet and heartwarming, one of the rare examples of a romantic sub-plot really elevating a film. I think that might be because he’s the only non-magical main character in the film, so he’s our point of reference, he’s the one we identify with.
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Some reviewers complained this film was uneven, saying the audience was unsure whether we should be mocking or sympathising with the main character. That’s a strength to me though, the fact that we can do both. She was clearly delusional, but her delusion came from a place of warmth and honesty so we could easily sympathise with her. The fact that the audience can laugh at this character, yet also feel her pain throughout, is testament to both the script and Meryl Streep’s performance (I know, Streep gives a good performance, what a surprise, right?)
Again, went in with low expectations yet really liked this film. Can be best defined as a horror film aimed at pre-teens. Not scary enough for adults, but entertaining enough to justify its existence.
Grimsby
Very close to being in the “Meh”, but Mark Strong’s performance just about pushes it into this one. Funny, disgusting and full of obvious inaccuracies, it’s basically South Park without politics.
Keanu
It’s an action comedy about two people stealing a cat from gangsters, and it features Anna Farris playing a drugged up Anna Farris, this was either going to be awful or charming and funny, luckily it manages the second one. Very sweet and very funny.
Ridiculous plotting, stupid characters, and coincidences that even JK Rowling would consider “a bit much”, yet bombastic enough that it kind of works. Plus Radcliffe seems to be having the time of his life.
Great songs, and a film which could teach Zoolander 2 a thing or two about how to do celebrity cameos; do it to enhance the film, keep the focus on your characters, not on the celebs.
Race
Obvious oscar bait, but a remarkable story that’s very well told. Also Jason Sudeikis gives a career best performance, one scene in particular stands out as fantastic, where he’s in a locker room as a football team shouts at him, he’s ignoring them and continues talking to his athletes about how all the yelling is “just noise” and doesn’t matter.
Secrets in their eyes
A film that nobody really talks about, which is a shame as it was very good. Yes it was a remake, but it’s very well made and has a great story. Plus it’s the first film where I’ve truly understood why people like Julia Roberts.
Storks
Expected it to be terrible, yet was actually quite funny. Not the greatest plot but very charming. Plus it has a fight scene where all the characters are trying to not make any noise so they don’t wake a sleeping baby, which was one of my favourite scenes of the year, was hilarious.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Worth seeing, even if only to hear Martin Freeman call someone a “cunt” in a Scottish accent.
The Witch
Very very scary. But not enough iconic scenes/shots. And maybe it would have been better if there wasn’t actually a witch so it would have been about puritanical paranoia, as it is their paranoia was justified, I feel it would have been a stronger film if it wasn’t a witch that destroyed them, but was their own religious beliefs that did so instead.

The Sad Case Of The 5th Wave

Confession time: I actually liked this film. Okay, the “romance” moments were really bad but the rest of the film was good. The destruction scenes were very well done and really showcased the horror that’s going on. There’s very little “implied” deaths here, they’re shown, and shown in detail. For example; during a scene where an earthquake induced tsunami where the wave washes through a building, rather than just show it from the outside, or show people getting knocked down, the wave actually knocks someone off a balcony and they land (painfully) on a rail below. The plot itself was really tight as well, it held together beautifully and I’m genuinely invested in the characters and want to see what happens next.

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Which makes it even sadder that it’s not doing well at the box office. It’s just about managed to claw back its budget in the US and considering it was only out in a lot of UK cinemas for a week it doesn’t look like it’s going to do too well here. So why is this? It’s got a semi-established name in Chloe Grace Moretz, Liev Schreiber is usually pretty solid, and you’d think people would be interested in what Maika Monroe does after It Follows.

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Turns out “look amazing”

I think the big problem is the marketing, in that there really wasn’t any. I haven’t seen any posters for it anywhere, nor any trailers, which considering how often I go to the cinema (thank you Cineworld card) isn’t a good sign. I’ve seen the trailers for Spotlight, Concussion and Dirty Grandpa so often that I can probably quote them word for word.

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although it can be hard for me to watch this trailer through the red haze of anger at how awful it looks

So how would I have marketed it? Well, I would have made sure trailers were actually shown at cinema for one thing, if it wasn’t for checking the listings at cineworld website I wouldn’t have had any idea this was even on. Also, I would have done a 5 part video game. I’m not talking an extremely complex XBone or PS4 game or something, just a simple online game made of 4 parts, all based on old video games. One could be like a space invaders clone, one could be one where you have to go around shutting off all the electricity towards the building. You stagger the releases and on the final one you reveal that you are actually aliens invading humanity and causing their doom.

I admit that’s not the most definite way, there’s no way it will guarantee success but at least you’ll be trying. Their entire marketing section on wikipedia is “An international trailer was released on Sony Pictures official youtube account on September 1, 2015”. I just went on the website and it’s pretty standard; cast and crew, videos, gallery etc. But there’s one section labelled “defining the waves”. I saw that and thought “ah, this could be good, maybe it provides a lot of background detail or is some kind of viral marketing campaign. Maybe I was wrong. Nope, it’s literally just a sentence describing each wave of attack. As I used to say whenever I was playing someone on Fifa and they messed up; Wasted opportunity there.

But yeah, if you get a chance, go and see this. It may not deserve you buying it, it may not deserve your adoration, but at the very least it deserves your attention.

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Also, go see Room, because it’s f*cking spectacular

That’s it for today, don’t forget to like, comment or subscribe (button available in the left menu). Enjoy